Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Work Like an Egyptian

Grab this related post Widget!
I showed you the parts of our new home that are completed but alluded to the fact that other areas are "in progress." So we've had electricians in here the last two days installing some lighting and plugs. Sometimes only one; sometimes as many as three. They seem to just kind of mysteriously come and go. You don't ask---at least they're here!!

But it's amazing how little they seem to accomplish. You know what the room looks like before the work begins. The guys go up and are banging and drilling and making all sorts of racket. You check on the progress an hour later and nothing looks different. How is this possible? Were they playing a recording of construction noise or something??

When they showed up on time this morning to finish what seemed easily a one day job I wanted to hug them because--well, unless this is your initial visit to my brave new world, you know why--and then slap them because I was going to have to endure another day of pounding and debris in our new, previously clean place. "Why pounding,?" you Americanos might astutely ask. Because the walls are made of concrete here, not sheetrock. So holes are chiseled, not sawed.

And these guys speak no English, which gives me the opportunity to share with you the Holy Grail of expat existence----Google Translator. With our lawyer--with our landlord--with all the workers who have come in and out of our lives these last four months, this tool has been a lifesaver. Sometimes, like our episode at the dry cleaners, playing Hangman and Charades is a lot of fun. But when important stuff involving real money is involved it's important that everyone really understands.

It's not perfect, but-------. I sit and type what I want to say. Entende(understand)? Si. You get up, the other person sits down and types the reply. Back and forth. Our landlord and I have become really good friends mainly communicating this way. It's pathetic, we both admit, but until our Espanol is up to par, this is far better than major misunderstandings and disappointments.

So tomorrow the boys will be back for Day 3 of a one day job and I'm starting to understand how the foremen on those pyramid projects must have felt. "Holy Ra, these stone blocks moved like, what, ten feet yesterday? I mean, these slaves are good guys and all, but in the name of Osiris, is this damned tomb going to get built before Ramses friggin' dies? I flog 'em; I beat 'em; I kill a few as an example--nothin' works with these guys!!"

And then there's the other crew that's supposed to have shown up to move our refrigerator from the 2nd floor for the last two days. Sigh---------------.


Sapa Ynca said...

Ah the holy grail! Yep Its a great tool ain't it. You know you can get translator on Chrome and it does entire pages? Thats how I read the local paper and Government stuff.
BTW Ed, when you have a chance..any advice on the container "Do's and don't s" I would appreciate you sharing "off blog". Thanks

zootenval said...

I heart "Translator" as well. I must admit, after getting through level 1 of Rosetta Stone, plus a couple other supplemental programs, I understand quite a bit, and get the gist of most paragraphs without transator. However, I find I still need it to reply pretty often.

"Mi vocabulario espanol es todavia pequeno"

Sounds like you got some great union Chicago electricians down there.

Andy Tomlin

indel said...

I understand the source of that Egyptian scenario. I wouldn’t be to much shocked by some headlines in Cuenca's El Telegrafo mentioning the intensive use of the "cat o'nine tails" on some poor electricians. But…I read, one more time your “Manana Finally Comes!”, and those pictures show a beautiful apartment and, any aggressive feelings simply disappeared. Great work, and if you are patient for few more days (five, six?), there’ll be Paradise! Nicholas

Edd Staton said...

Perhaps my tone came across too harshly. The people here work very hard, and their efforts are truly appreciated. Their time management and organizational skills, on the other hand, leave a LOT to be desired. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change-----

Jack said...

That's some funny sh*t Edd... putting yourself in the place of an ancient Egyptian pyramid-building foreman. It probably went a lot like that.